"You don't give to those whom you love; you love those to whom you give."
I came across the above (paraphrased) quote from the Jewish philosopher Rabbi Dessler in a Facebook video last week. It had a profound effect on me and got me reflecting on the nature of true love. There is a big difference between the two perspectives contained within this quote. Understanding that difference could be the key to resolving 99% of relationship issues.
I've realised that the former perspective (i.e. you give to those whom you love) could be considered people pleasing. "I love you, therefore I give" seems like a perfectly logical premise at first, but what has people pleasing got to do with love? It eventually turns into resentment and the feeling that you are being taken for granted. Why? Because people pleasing attracts takers who drain away all your energy. There is a limiting belief underpinning this perspective; the belief that love has to be justified, earned or "proven" by giving to another. There is an attachment to outcome here. The giving is conditional.
The latter perspective (i.e. you love those to whom you give) is the epitome of true love because it is unconditional. Giving freely without reason or expectation, whilst simultaneously maintaining healthy personal boundaries, is a beautiful act of self-love. From this perspective, giving becomes the means of expressing love. There is no attachment to outcome here. There is no space for resentment here. The lover gives for the joy of giving. There is no relinquishment of power. On the contrary, the giving is energising and uplifting for the giver because it is motivated by nothing other than a desire to be and express love.
Let me apply what I'm saying to an everyday household activity: doing the washing up. If you believe that you are washing the dishes as a way of showing that you love your family, you are coming from a people pleasing perspective and will eventually find yourself on the road to resentment. You will know if this applies to you because you will feel aggrieved when nobody acknowledges your effort or says "thank you". This desire for external validation stems from the belief that "if they loved me, they would show it". In truth, their seeming lack of appreciation is a reflection of your limiting belief, not a lack of love on their part.
If, on the other hand, you are doing the washing up because it feels joyful to do so, knowing that you are contributing to a harmonious household, you are coming from a self-loving perspective. Giving to your family through the act of washing up becomes an expression of the love that you feel inside. It requires nothing in return. There is no need for anyone to say "thank you" because the desire to give was self-motivated by your own love. Ironically, this is when your family are most likely to express gratitude for your efforts!
I've spent several hours this morning writing this post. I could be keeping the information within it to myself and charging hundreds of pounds to share it during my 1-1 coaching sessions with parents. And yet I give it away freely in a public post. Why? Because it fills me with joy to give. Because it feels wonderful to know that I am contributing to a more harmonious world. I love because I give, and not the other way round.
Now, I want to add that I don't share my personal insights on giving and loving here because I believe I am "right". I am neither right nor wrong; I am simply being myself. Whether you choose to accept and apply my message to your own life, or dismiss and disregard it, makes no difference to me. I give it freely, without attachment to outcome.
Similarly, I don't share this information in order to demonstrate what a nice loving person I am, or to make myself feel "better" than others. The truth is, the message in this post is a lesson that I am currently integrating into my own life. That's what motivated me to write about it when I woke up this morning. I'm a work in progress, just like everybody else. I don't have all (any) of the answers. I'm merely sharing a perspective based on the themes and patterns I'm observing in the world around me at this time.
Do I sometimes do the washing up out of a sense of obligation and then feel disappointed when nobody acknowledges my efforts? Yes, I do! But I'm learning to make a more conscious effort to ensure that I'm doing things from a heart-based desire to give, rather than from a perceived need or expectation to show that I care. My sense of inner peace and happiness seems to be growing exponentially as a result of this shift in perspective.